All Around the Town - Keeping Baby Happy En Route

 by Anne Winthrop Esposito Singing along in the car can make your baby feel less lonely! 

What´s the best way to accomplish errands with baby? Run only one or two at a time. Although you'll have to go out more often, each trip will be shorter, baby will get used to the routine, and you´ll become experienced with your baby´s reactions and learn better ways to go out with him. For example, it´s a good idea to take baby out when he´s fed and well rested. Also, most babies are at their best first thing in the morning. If you´re sleep deprived, like most parents, ten A.M. is not the time you want to go to the post office or go shopping, but the stores will be empty, and baby is likely to cooperate.

Keeping Baby Happy En Route

One part of getting around that your baby may not relish is being confined. While every child must be in a restraint anytime she's in a car, there are ways to make the experience more pleasant.

Car rides have a way of soothing babies to sleep. If your child is up to 22 pounds, you might want to consider buying a travel system that allows you to remove the restraint and snap it into the stroller without disturbing baby´s slumber.

Babies should ride facing to the rear of the car until at least their first birthday. Babies over 22 pounds must ride in a convertible car seat. This type of car seat is meant to remain in the car, so if your baby falls asleep during the ride, you'll need to risk waking her to remove her from the car. Fortunately older babies are usually on a nap schedule, so you can avoid the situation by planning errands around naptime.

What´s the worst enemy of a parent driving around with a baby? Boredom. So, instead of turning on the music you enjoy, how about putting on a tape of Mozart, a favorite of many babies? Other tyke likes include music from Disney movies, anything Barney, and Sesame Street. Don't let pride prevent you from joining in - your baby will feel less excluded if you sing to her during the ride. While your off-key rendition of "This Old Man" might grate on your nerves, your baby´s happy gurgles are as good as a standing ovation.

You won´t be able to rely on just any toy to keep your baby occupied while you drive. Hard toys should be secured in the diaper bag while the car is in motion. Small, soft toys are OK, but it´s best to attach them to the car seat with a short string (less than six inches) so you´re not distracted from driving by having to retrieve dropped toys.

Consider which direction you´ll be traveling, and make sure the sun won´t be glaring into your baby´s eyes. If you can´t cover the offending window with a visor, see if your baby will wear sunglasses (some fashion-conscious babies actually enjoy them!).

To Grandmother´s House We Go....

If you´re lucky enough to have relatives nearby, you´ll want to have them and baby see each other often. An extended family can help a child grow up feeling more secure in his world - and can give you some much-needed support.

While you don´t want to overpack, baby will be most comfortable with his own things around him.

Once baby´s able to sit up and eat solid foods, at about four to six months, you´ll need to take along a portable high chair so you don´t have to feed baby on your lap. 

At first you´ll find it a little tiring to get things done with a baby in tow. But believe it or not, as you gain experience, it will become easier and more fun. You may even be surprised to find yourself looking forward to running errands with your little buddy. 

Anatomy of a Diaper Bag

  • Plenty of diapers (a minimum of three for even the shortest trip) and wipes (travel packs for short trips, the whole container for longer treks)
  • Waterproof changing pad
  • Change of clothing (in addition to what you´ve packed for baby), including undershirt/bodysuit and socks
  • Diaper rash ointment
  • Empty plastic bags to stow messes (newspaper bags are great!)
  • Several wet washcloths or cloth diapers in sandwich bags
  • Several washable bibs
  • Pacifier and holder
  • Small toys
  • One or two light blankets for air conditioned rooms or chilly weather
  • Lightweight jacket or sweater
  • Baby's favorite toys, comfort objects, pacifier.